The following is my own quick translation this morning of Cardinal Vingt-Trois's letter to Paris Catholics in the wake of the past week's terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. It was published today in the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. If I find an official English translation I will replace this one with the better one. A pdf copy of the French text from La Croix is attached for download: Download La_Croix_1265264
To Paris Catholics:
Paris, January 10, 2015
Our country, our city of Paris in particular, have been the scene of acts of violence and unheard of barbarity. For many years for us, war and death have always been elsewhere even if, during this time, French soldiers have been engaged in different countries to try to bring a little bit of peace. Some have paid with their lives.
But violent death has imposed itself suddenly among us. In France, and well beyond our borders, all are in a state of shock. Most of our fellow citizens have experienced this as a call to rediscover a number of fundamental values of our Republic such as freedom of religion or freedom of opinion. The spontaneous gatherings of recent days have been marked by a great meditation, without manifestation of hatred or violence. The sadness of grief and the belief that we have something to defend together is uniting the French.
A caricature, even if in bad taste, a criticism even if seriously unfair, cannot be placed on the same plane as murder. Freedom of the press, regardless of the cost, is the sign of a mature society. That men born in our country, our citizens, can think that the only just response to a mockery or insult would be the authors’ deaths poses serious questions to our society. That French Jews once again suffer the cost of the troubles that agitate our national community multiplies their severity. We also pay homage to the police officers who died exercising their function to the end.
I invite Paris Catholics to pray to the Lord for the terrorists’ victims, for their spouses, for their children and their families. Pray also for our country: that moderation, temperance, and control that all have shown so far will be confirmed in weeks and months to come, that no one will give in to panic or hatred; that no one will give in to the ease of identifying a few fanatics with an entire religion. And pray also for the terrorists who are discovering the truth of God's judgment. Ask for the grace to be artisans of peace. We must never despair of peace, if we build justice.
+ André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris